ASU Art Museum has something for everyone this semester

Ceramics, photography and classics – oh my!  ASU Art Museum unveiled its Fall 2015 exhibitions on Sept. 11, showing students and staff alike that they don’t have to travel very far (or pay very much) for some art and culture.

The museum’s new exhibitions feature a variety of mediums, from videos projected on huge walls in front of beanbag chairs, elegantly framed classic paintings to photography and ceramics at its ASU Art Museum Brickyard location.

“Statement Piece” artist Ehren Tool made the exhibit currently on display at the Brickyard location. He spent the afternoon making clay cups with museum-goers in the gallery space. 

Tool, a veteran, uses his ceramic art, especially bowls and cups, to start the discussion about the realities of war and spread “war awareness,” a term his wife has coined.

The medium of clay offered him a unique opportunity after he returned from war and started taking ceramics classes through the GI Bill. 

“It doesn’t have as much cultural weight, especially a cup. It’s a good analogy for humans as the vessel,” Tool said.

The artist has given several workshops for veterans with ceramics curator Garth Johnson the past week and given out an estimated 200 cups during his short stay in Arizona. Johnson believes the exhibitions present an interesting crossover. 

“The ASU museum has such an amazing history with socially engaged art and community activism,” Johnson said.

Also on display was “Found(ing) Story: The Oliver B. James Collection”, a collection of historic paintings donated to the ASU Art Museum.  The collection displays the pieces in the order they were donated and includes works by many great American painters including Georgia O’ Keefe. James’ many contributions helped start and establish the art museum in the 1950s.

“Existe lo que tiene nombre,” on the other hand, is a new exhibit that includes photographs by more than 50 contemporary Mexican photographers. The exhibit displays works ranging from comical to unsettling and is the U.S. debut for many of the photographers.

On the third floor of the museum is “Miguel Angel Rios: Landlocked,” a collection of sketches, paintings, photographs and props used in the famous video artwork of Miguel Angel Rios, also on display at the museum.

The exhibit was three years in the making, according to curator Julio César Morales, who believes the message of Rios’ work is “discovery.” This is showcased by the words “Get Lost” boldly painted on one wall.

Museum members, directors, artists and students came out to the opening reception where artwork seemed to looming behind every corner.

Even a balloon marking the museum’s entrance was revealed to be part of a project by modern art group Postcommodity in which balloons will be set up along a trail between Mexico and United States for one weekend in October.

The new exhibitions impressed creative writing major Jennifer Eason.

“It was a lot different than art I’ve seen before,” Eason 

Eaton believes physical art museums are still important, even with so many pieces of art available online.

“If you’re starting at it in person, it just takes your breath away,” she said.

The ASU Art Museum is located at Mill Avenue and Seventh Street. Its second location, Brickyard, is located just down the road at Mill Avenue and 10th Street.  The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free.

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